Ruth is a woman who believes in and despairs of the curative power of love. Her daughter, Eleanor, who is addicted to drugs, has just had a baby, Lily. Ruth adjusts herself in ways large and small to give to Eleanor what she thinks she may need—nourishment, distance, affection—but all her gifts fall short. After someone dies of an overdose in Eleanor's apartment, Ruth hands her daughter an envelope of cash and takes Lily home with her, and Lily, as she grows, proves a compensation for all of Ruth's past defeats and disappointment. Love without fear is a new feeling for her, almost unrecognizable. Will it last?
Love and Missed is a whip-smart, incisive, and mordantly witty novel about love's gains and missteps. British writer Susie Boyt's seventh novel, and the first to be published in the United States, is a triumph.
About the Author
Susie Boyt is the author of six novels and the memoir My Judy Garland Life, which was shortlisted for the PEN Ackerley Prize, staged at the Nottingham Playhouse, and serialized on BBC Radio 4. She has written about art, life, and fashion for the Financial Times for many years and recently edited The Turn of the Screw and Other Ghost Stories by Henry James. She is also a director at the Hampstead Theatre. She lives in London with her family.
“If my tattered and heavily annotated copy of Loved and Missed serves as a harbinger, Boyt has written a 21st-century classic.... Boyt, an acute student of Henry James’s fiction, creates an interlocking series of narratives that is not reducible to the so-called “trauma plot”. No single memory or cluster of memories explains why Ruth feels “smashed up” at the novel’s outset. Instead, Loved and Missed tracks the shambolic emergence of Ruth’s past within the present-tense narrative, and, in the process, raises as many questions as it answers—particularly regarding her relationship with Eleanor.” —Eric Gudas, Los Angeles Review of Books
"It is one of the great charms of the book that, while Boyt is clear-eyed about the compulsions driving Ruth’s caregiving, the descriptions of this caregiving remain so seductive. Much of the novel depicts, with exquisite detail, the prosaic patterns of Ruth and Lily’s home life—quotidian routines between grandmother and granddaughter that are mildly intoxicating." —Jane Hu, The New Yorker
"Enough to disarm even the most cynical readers. Loved and Missed bottles up those fleeting, blissful moments of child-rearing and spritzes each page liberally with their scent. The happiness Boyt describes is so infectious that you want it to last, for your own sake; it isn’t often that readers of literary fiction float along in such placid waters." —Hillary Kelly, The Atlantic
"There is something eminently sensible about this book’s everyday depictions of sadness and courage, something that seems to me quite British, reminiscent of Margaret Drabble and Penelope Lively.... the novel’s heartbreaking ending is fringed with consolations. Ms. Boyt has written her novel with honesty and kindness." —Sam Sacks, The Wall Street Journal
"Like nearly everything else about this novel, the title does double duty, like a Murphy bed with a secretary desk on its flip side. At first I read it as if it were a gravestone. Only after I finished the book did I see another meaning: 'missed' as a target might be, as if love were a rocket fired from the shoulder." —Joumana Khatib, The New York Times
"The novel conveys the full spectrum of Ruth trying to mother Eleanor in her troubled state from afar….This tale of sorrow and devotion with a layer of hope is for fans of real-world family fiction focusing on intense situations." —Beth Liebman Gibbs, Library Journal
"[Loved and Missed has] an impeccable tone: funny, dark, quiet, sharp." —Maggie Lange, Bustle
"A single mother navigates custody of her granddaughter—and tries to correct mistakes she made the first time around—in this gentle but heart-wrenching story....Readers who are averse to crying in public be warned: You’ll want to sit with this astounding story at home." —Kirkus Starred Review
"UK author Boyt’s first novel to be published in the States covers the themes of parenting, addiction, and forgiveness....This tale of sorrow and devotion with a layer of hope is for fans of real-world family fiction focusing on intense situations." —Library Journal
"British writer Boyt delivers a story of filial estrangement in her mordant and touching U.S. debut…Boyt’s assured effort brims with intelligence and feeling." —Publishers Weekly
“What a beautiful, illuminating and deeply humane novel Susie Boyt has given us—her prose glorious, her characters alive upon the page, their voices and gestures utterly vivid. Loved and Missed, rich like life itself in sorrow, comedy and joy, is a triumph.” —Claire Messud
“Loved and Missed is a story of parental love and human failing that’s more funny than it has any right to be, more heartbreaking than you think you can bear; it's the sort of book you can’t wait to recommend to everyone you know, the sort of book we are lucky to have.” —Rumaan Alam
“Susie Boyt is an extraordinary novelist of the inner life. Loved and Missed is her most masterful, most fearless book yet.” —Joseph O'Neill “Loved and Missed deftly sidesteps the clichés that often plague stories involving drug abuse, and it conveys the complexities of loving someone who can't love you back with remarkable delicacy.” —Mia Levitin, Financial Times
“This beautiful tale of love, courage and compassion ... captures the pain of estrangement in penetrating, haunting language.... Loved and Missed is a complex, deeply moving novel about frailty and suffering. Despite all the sadness, hope remains.” —Martin Chilton, Independent “Boyt is both funny ... and poignant ... but never less than impeccably truthful, with a broad, oft breathtaking wisdom.” —Emily Hourican, Irish Independent
“Boyt's novel is compelling—and invites our compassion for those who may not always earn it, but still deserve it.” —Marianka Swain, Daily Telegraph
“Always surprising—unexpected, particular, the thing you didn't know you wanted, but needed more than anything. A tender study of unrequited maternal love redeemed ultimately by the quiet glory of not giving up.” —Tamsin Greig
“Boyt's writing is perceptive and emotionally powerful.” —MSN
“I adored Susie Boyt's novel Loved And Missed, which explores what can happen when, out of the blue, addiction and dereliction arrive to wreck a family. And how goodwill, determination and encouragement can ultimately put things back together again.” —Rev Richard Coles, Daily Mail